9 things you never noticed in the reunion movie 'Return to Mayberry'
Did you notice Don's daughter and Judy Jetson?
In the Eighties, America missed Mayberry. The proof is in the rating. When Return to Mayberry aired in 1986, the special became the most-watched TV movie of the year.
Reunions and reboots can be tricky propositions, but this sequel lived up to its name. It was not merely a reunion of the cast. Director Bob Sweeney had helmed 80 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, while writers Harvey Bullock and Everett Greenbaum were responsible for some of the greatest Mayberry tales such as "The Pickle Story" and "The Mayberry Band." No wonder the formula remained intact.
Now, you can revisit the reunion on MeTV. Return to Mayberry serves as the fitting conclusion to The Month of Mayberry on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 8PM | 7C.
Let's take a closer look at one of the greatest television reunions!
1. The original Mayberry had been destroyed.
In the sixties, filming of The Andy Griffith Show took place on the 40 Acres Studio Lot in Culver City, California, the hub for Desilu Production. This is why you can spot familiar Mayberry businesses and streets in other Desilu shows such as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. However, in 1976, the entire facility was demolished. Hey, at least they didn't blow up Mayberry for an exploitation film. That meant when production began on Return to Mayberry a decade later in 1986, a new Mayberry needed to be constructed. Try to spot the differences. It's particularly noticeable in the closing shot, when Andy and Barney raise the American flag on a street that stretched to the horizon.
2. Judy Jetson was the voice of Aunt Bee.
Frances Bavier had retired from acting following her time on Mayberry, R.F.D. In fact, she had moved to North Carolina — to a small town not far from the fictional Mayberry! Some claim that Bavier did not reprise her role as Aunt Bee in Return to Mayberry for health reasons (she passed away three years later in 1989) while others speculate she was merely not interested. Thus, Aunt Bee does not appear in the reunion movie, though her voice is heard. That is actually Janet Waldo performing as Bee. You know the cartoon legend best as Judy Jetson, Pearl Slaghoople, Penelope Pitstop, Josie the Pussycat and more! She did physically appear in Mayberry, too, in the Andy Griffith Show episode "A Wife for Andy."
3. Karen Knotts, daughter of Don, has a role in the movie.
Karen Knotts continues to carry on the legacy of her father to this day, touring her one-woman comedy show. She also has a small resume of television roles, including early guest spots on Eight Is Enough and One Day at a Time. You can find her in Return to Mayberry as Opie's receptionist!
4. Ron Howard's dad marries Barney and Thelma.
Indeed, Return to Mayberry is a family affair! Rance Howard was no stranger to The Andy Griffith Show, having been around the set often with his sons, Ron (Opie) and Clint (Leon). You probably remember him best as the governor's driver in "Barney and the Governor." He's also driving (a bus) in "Cousin Virgil." Spot him in "A Black Day for Mayberry" and "The Rumor," too!
5. Barney switched to driving a Chevy.
Ford supplied the Mayberry police cruisers in the original series. Sheriff Taylor's squad cars were always Ford Galaxie 500s. Well, after Andy moved to Cleveland (yep, that's the backstory in Return to Mayberry) the town must have switched suppliers. Barney now drives a 1981 Chevy Malibu.
6. It's just the third time Goober and Gomer appear together.
They may be cousins, but they are not as close as it seems when it comes to sharing the screen. Goober (George Lindsey) made his debut in the 1964 episode "Fun Girl." You remember the scene — "Judy! Judy! Judy!" Surprisingly, this is the only time Gomer and Goober appear together on The Andy Griffith Show! "A Visit from Cousin Goober" reunited the two again on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in 1965. At last, in Return to Mayberry, the cousins are closer than ever, running a gas station together.
7. It was the final TV role in character for George Lindsey.
Speaking of Goober, Return to Mayberry would prove to the television swan song in character for actor George Lindsey. Well, there was one brief reprise in an unlikely place. Nashville Now was a talk show on the Nashville Network in the early Nineties. In 1991, an entire episode was devoted to The Andy Griffith Show, with the stars as guests, as the cast was in town for a reunion. Lindsey, Hal Smith and Betty Lynn slipped into character for a short skit. He would later make a couple of cameos as "himself" on Vicki! and NewsRadio in the 1990s.
8. A certain Taylor child seems to be missing.
Remember this baby? Samuel Taylor? Child of Andy and Helen Taylor? He was first seen in "Andy's Baby," an episode of Mayberry R.F.D. Opie's kid brother would have been around 17 years old in Return to Mayberry. However, no mention is made of the boy, nor is he seen.
9. Some notorious Mayberry criminals went straight.
In "The Christmas Story," early in the episode, Andy and Barney sit and read holiday cards. The Hubachers, a trio of brothers locked up in state prison, send one to the cops. We see a close-up of the card, which reads, "Greetings from state prison." Well, the Hubachers must have reformed after two decades. Look for Hubacker's Hardware Store in Return to Mayberry! They're now businessmen, presumably!